Iconic Staircase from The Exorcist Could Be Historic Landmark

Washington, DC local wants “Scary Staircase from ‘The Exorcist'” to be a historic landmark


As the great-grandfather of demonic possession films, The Exorcist has terrified us for decades. The special effects horrified my mother when she saw it in 1973, and 44 years later I couldn’t take my eyes off the floor when I went through the Exorcist house at Halloween Horror Nights. It’s a cherished terror and we have never forgotten it. Something about this movie will not let us forget.

Evidently, that special something about The Exorcist is what led Andrew Huff of Washington, DC to dedicate a plaque to the steps on the corner of 36th and Prospect. Huff, director William Freidkin, and author William Peter Blatty gathered to present the plaque in 2015.

The Power of Christ Compels You to Dedicate the Staircase

Father Karras at the foot of the iconic staircase in the finale of ‘The Exorcist.’ Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com.au

The iconic steps that lead up to the MacNeil’s apartment have been a horror fan’s tourist stop for years. It’s even listed on the Atlas Obscura and Roadside America websites, among other travel databases. Blatty, the author of both the novel and the screenplay, briefly lived in that apartment. Huff wants the staircase properly recognized as a historic landmark. Mainly, to “prevent construction in the area which could impact the stairway’s surroundings,” according to comicbook.com, but also for the legendary role it played in the film.

The staircase consists of 75 stone steps. In order to film the penultimate scene of Father Damien Karras falling down the stairs after the exorcism, the crew covered each step with a half-inch-thick layer of rubber to ease the fall for the stuntman. Even then, it had to be a tough fall. The scene took three takes. Georgetown University students charged interested viewers five dollars to watch the scene from the rooftops.

The Exorcist is the ninth highest grossing film of all time, one of two horror films to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, the other being Get Out (2017). The original 1973 film spawned three sequels, a prequel, and a short-lived series.


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About the author

Lauren Boisvert

Lauren Boisvert is a writer and Pisces from Florida. She has had poems published with Memoir Mixtapes, spy kids review, The Mochila Review, and others. She loves Mystery Science Theater 3000, classic horror, and making everyone in the car listen to the Beastie Boys.

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